Choosing the right optional is one of the most crucial decisions for an IAS aspirant. Over the past several years, sociology is being regarded as a good optional by a large number of candidates. Many serious UPSC aspirants seriously consider choosing sociology as their optional.
There are numerous reasons why sociology is considered as a good optional. Some of these reasons are discussed below:
1. Good number of selections - Every year a good number of candidates with sociology optional make it to the final list of recommended candidates in the Civil Services Exam. In fact, year after year an impressive number of candidates with sociology optional are selected for the top services like IAS, IPS & IFS.
2. High scoring - Scores as high as 320 out of 500 can be obtained in the sociology papers. Such high score enables a serious candidate to secure a place in the final merit list and even get a top service like IAS, IPS or IFS.
3. Safe Optional- It is important to factor in the worst-case scenario while choosing one’s optional. Even if a candidate is relatively ill prepared for the sociology optional, he can still reasonably hope to secure relatively good marks of about 220-230 in the sociology optional papers.
4. Popular- The fact that sociology is a good optional is substantiated by the large number of candidates who choose to opt for it. Despite large number of candidates opting for it, sociology has a good success ratio.
5. Easy to understand - Most of the concepts in the sociology optional papers are quiet easy to grasp. They do not require any technical knowledge and the subject is not too jargon laden.
6. Predictable - The nature of questions asked in the UPSC sociology optional papers is fairly predictable. Between the two, sociology Paper-I questions are relatively easier to predict than the Paper-2 questions. In fact, several times previous years’ questions are straight away repeated in sociology Paper-I. In Paper-2, the topics are quite predictable if not the exact wording of the question.
7. No academic background required - It is interesting to note that more than 95% of the UPSC aspirants who take sociology as their optional subject do not have any academic background in sociology. Sociology can be very easily understood by a person of any academic background such as science & engineering, commerce, management etc.
8. Small syllabus - Sociology undoubtedly has one of the shortest syllabus amongst all the optionals. In fact, its syllabus is so concise and well defined that it can be comfortably completed by a beginner in 3.5 to 4 months.
9. Helps in the Essay paper - IAS aspirants with sociology optional enjoy a definite edge in the CSE Essay paper. The nature of the Essay paper is such that every year a good number of social issues are amongst the Essay topics. Sociology optional student have very rich content for such Essay topics. This enables them to score much better than their peers in the Essay paper.
10. GS overlap - Sociology optional preparation also covers a large number of topics in the 4 General Studies papers.
11. Utility during UPSC Interview - An understanding of one’s society helps the aspirants to face the UPSC Personality Test with a degree of confidence. The Interview board members are keenly interested in knowing the candidates’ views on various social issues in their home state and the country at large. Candidates with sociology optional can use their sociological understanding of various social issues like female feticide, caste based discrimination, tribal development etc. to give multidimensional and impressive answers.
12. Proper Guidance - Several teachers with years of teaching experience take sociology optional classes in the physical as well as online mode. Such guidance plays a crucial role in the student’s success particularly when the aspirant is new to the subject. An experienced teacher can help the student in understanding new concepts, clearing his/her doubts, notes making and structuring one’s answers as per the demands of the UPSC CSE exam.
13. Quality Resources - There are many high quality and easy to read resources available for sociology optional. These include standard books like Haralambos & Holborn and Ritzer, toppers’ notes etc.
14. Helps in Governing- Sociology optional not only helps a candidate to clear the IAS exam but it also helps immensely in performing one’s duties as an administrator after selection. Most of the services such as IAS & IPS deal directly with ordinary members of the society. Deep understanding of the society helps the officer in understanding the people’s mindset and resolving various social issues.
15. Interesting- Sociology is a very interesting subject. It can sustain a student’s interest over the long drawn preparation period. Sociology provides a fresh prospective on various social arrangements and practices. It helps one to see seemingly ordinary social institutions like family and religion in a new light.